New date EFTRE board meeting

Covid-19 unsettled almost all our calendars. That doesn’t exclude EFTRE! The board meeting, originally planned for the end of March had to be postponed. Now, a new date has been found. It will take place on 20th and 21st November 2020. Save the date! The place will stay the same. So EFTRE is looking forward to finally visiting the colleagues from Valencia, Spain!

Corona, website and membership: the EFTRE executive’s topics

Due to the Corona crisis, EFTRE’s board meeting originally planned on 27-28th March 2020 in Valencia, Spain, had to be postponed to the second half of the year. Instead, the executive board only met via video conference.

The group exchanged about how EFTRE can put European solidarity first in times of Corona and support members in current challenges such as distance learning. A first collection of links has been put on the website which will be further updated. RE teachers can find useful materials and tools for distant learning offered in various European countries.

Furthermore, the executive took forward the renewal of the network’s website and an improvement of the membership management.

Corona virus and RE distance learning

We have gathered here some useful links for teachers.

BBC

Learn & revise: Religious Studies

Bru-uno.de

On this special page of bru-uno.de, at present constantly updated, possibilities are compiled how (vocational school) religious education can be successful in times of Corona.

Comenius institute

New platform by “rpi-virtuell”, the virtual RE institute that is part of the Comenius institute, with tasks and work sheets for students that can be sorted by grades or topics of interest.

Church of Wurttemberg

Offer by the regional Church of Wurttemberg with links for RE lessons but also tips what do to with smaller kids at home, information about pastoral care and Church services online.

European Commission

Coronavirus: online learning resources

NATRE

FREE resources for you and your pupils

Religions-pädagogisches Zentrum Heilsbronn

Materials for Religious Education structured by topics.

Teach:RE

Religion and Worldviews: Subject knowledge for teaching

New Executive and Board elected

During the conference in Dublin the EFTRE General Assembly took place as well. One important point was the appointment of the Executive and the Board of EFTRE.

In regard to the Executive, two new members were elected: Marios Kokounaras Liagkis from Greece and Bianca Kappelhoff from Germany. Former Executive member Florin Tomoioaga has stepped down but continues as the Board Member for Rumania. Thus, the members of the Executive for the next three years are: Lesley Prior, England (Chair), Elisabeth Faber, Denmark (Secretary), Hugo Verkest, Belgium (Treasurer), Sonja Danner, Austria, Outi Raunio, Finland (Communications Officer), Marios Kokounaras Liagkis, Greece and Bianca Kappelhoff, Germany. As the next Conference in 2022 will take place in Rome, Italian board member Orazio Ruscica or his representative, will be co-opted onto the Executive as well.

As for the Board, almost all country representatives agreed to continue in their roles. As Bianca Kappelhoff has now joined the Executive, she is also the German representative on the board. Furthermore, Eliana Hadjioannou joined the board as Cyprus’ representative.

Please note: You find a full list and description of the board members and the executive members on the EFTRE website.

Written by Bianca Kappelhoff

Reconciling realities in Northern Ireland (EFTRE conference extension programme)

Twenty years after the signing of the Good Friday agreement, Northern Ireland was an ideal place to further explore the subject of the conference “Reconciling Realities”. Sixteen participants explored the city of Belfast and the surrounding countryside under the competent leadership of Norman Richardson, EFTRE board member for Northern Ireland. An additional study day offered everyone the chance to engage in dialogue with educators and researchers from Northern Ireland.

For the two hours ride from Dublin to Belfast, Norman challenged all participants to see if they could spot the Irish border. Indeed, there was only one road sign indicating speed limits in Northern Ireland. But the most obvious sign for everyone on the bus was the rainbow that emerged in the cloudy sky right at that moment. What a wonderful start to the trip!

The following day began with a tour through the city of Belfast. The group learned about the history and current situation of the city. Often, one could tell from the flags in the streets whether it was a Loyalist (Protestant) or Nationalist (Catholic) neighbourhood. Stops at several mural paintings reflected very well the past marked by the Troubles. The story of a conflict between two neighbouring schools showed how the animosity affected education. Particularly impressive was the visit to one of the most well known parts of the Peace Wall. Originally constructed as a temporary barrier, it now towers up to eight metres high in the sky keeping the division of the city quite concrete.

The trip further north out of the city offered all kinds of dreamy landscapes with the green meadows, sheep and cattle that one would imagine in Northern Ireland. High above the cliffs at the seaside lie the buildings of Corrymeela. This Peace and Reconciliation Centre has largely contributed to reconciling realities in Northern Ireland over the last fifty years. With thousands of volunteers the community offers programmes for (school) groups, families and individuals and brings all kind of people together. The programme manager Sean Pettis presented one of their programmes entitled “legacies of conflict” during the symposium the following day.

The symposium offered the chance to reflect on the experiences of the previous days. Presentations about the historical background of Northern Ireland and the educational systems and correlated challenges helped to understand the current implications, also in view of a possible (hard) Brexit. A panel and discussion rounded off the very insightful and valuable extension programme. The numerous personal stories that Norman shared with the group made this trip even more special to everyone who participated. The group thanked Norman Richardson warmly and gratefully for the excellent organisation of the trip.

Please note: You find more information on the extension programme and the conference itself on the EFTRE website.

Written by Bianca Kappelhoff

EFTRE Conference 2019: the story of Reconciling Realities in Religious Education

During the last days of August, the EFTRE family came together in Dublin, Ireland, to hold its triannual conference. Old friends, brothers and sisters reunited in joy and welcomed new members into their midst. And while the last Irish summer days were still warm and sunny, the EFTRE family began to wonder whether soon enough it would have to gather around a cosy fire place – because the first keynote speaker Dr Anne Looney asked: ‘Is winter coming for RE? “

With this compelling allegory linked to the bestselling novels and mega hit TV series “Game of Thrones” Anne Looney set the tone for the following days: innovative reflections about RE in Europe combined with humour, vivid illustrative examples and opportunities for deep thinking. Around 60 delegates from 22 countries had come together to think about “Reconciling Realities in Religious Education”. It turned out that the island of Ireland was the perfect setting for this mission.

Speakers from the island – North and South – examined the topic from various angles on the first day. Philip McKinley, the Dublin City University (DCU) chaplain, took the audience on a journey of “island hopping” exploring the special characteristics of islands and of divided ones in particular. Padraig Ó Tuama, theologian, poet and member of the Corrymeela community in Northern Ireland, drew attention to the fact how much words and storytelling affect our perception of realities and what needs to be done in those terms to reconcile realities especially regarding Northern Ireland. Anne Looney, Executive Dean of the Institute of Education of the DCU positioned Religious Education in relation to the emerging field of Education future studies – an approach that might help reconcile realities in RE with current social changes and challenges. She concluded that winter may actually not be coming just yet!

The programme for the following two and a half days was characterised by a well-balanced mix of further keynotes, practical workshops, visits in the city of Dublin and opportunities for socialising. The workshops covered a wide range of approaches from how to use technology in RE to addressing controversial issues, using drama techniques or the use of sacred texts in the RE classroom. The contributions from 12 nations to these workshops demonstrated in a very inspiring way the richness of RE across Europe.

Another highlight of the programme was the conference dinner, which took place in the Music Room of Christchurch Cathedral. Archbishop Michael Jackson of the Church of Ireland warmly welcomed all participants at this very special place and spent the evening with the group. EFTRE was also delighted to welcome the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Ireland Diarmuid Martin to the keynote address given by Muslim educator Dr Abdullah Trevathan.

The conference ended with huge applause for the organising team particularly Sandra Cullen, Ireland’s representative on the EFTRE Board and the wonderful staff in Dublin City University, and the Chair of EFTRE, Lesley Prior. Thanks to the warm and welcoming atmosphere, the participants are already looking forward to the next EFTRE family gathering in Rome in 2022! The invitation from the Italian representatives was welcomed with enthusiasm!

Please note: If you want to know more about the conference, please visit the EFTRE website. There, you will find reports, pictures as well as presentations and materials from all keynotes and workshops available shortly.

Written by Bianca Kappelhoff